Canadian Ashley Stephenson joining Blue Jays’ organizational coaching staff
Photo credit:Baseball Canada
By Thomas Hall4 months ago
One of the country’s greatest baseball players will be joining the Toronto Blue Jays organization next season.
Ashley Stephenson, a former Canadian Women’s National Team player and coach, has accepted a coaching position with Toronto’s high-A affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians, ahead of the 2023 campaign. She becomes the second female on-field coach hired by the franchise, joining Jaime Vieira, who served as a hitting instructor for the FCL Blue Jays last season.
Stephenson played 15 seasons with Canada’s National program from 2004-18, winning three bronze medals and one silver at the Women’s Baseball World Cup. She also captured silver at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games.
The Mississauga, Ont., native announced her retirement following the 2018 season but wasn’t out of work for long, becoming a coach in 2019 and leading the Women’s program to a bronze medal at the Pan-American Championships. She also became the first woman to manage the Women’s National Team program in 2022 during Canada’s five-game series against the United States’ National Team in Thunder Bay, Ont.
“I am really excited for this opportunity,” said Stephenson. “I’ve loved baseball and the Blue Jays since I was 3 years old, and never really imagined that I’d be able to have a career in the game let alone with my favourite team.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and develop as a coach all while doing my best to help our players reach their ultimate goal.”
Stephenson coached at the Blue Jays Academy Canadian Futures Showcase in Ottawa last September, becoming the first woman to accomplish that feat. She was also the first woman to receive Baseball Canada’s Lionel Ruhr Elite Coach of the Year Award in November.
“On behalf of Baseball Canada and our board of directors, we are thrilled for Ashley and the experience in professional baseball that she has in front of her,” said Baseball Canada CEO Jason Dickson. “Ashley played the game with incredible passion and knowledge and has translated both of those attributes into her coaching career.
“We wish her nothing but the best of in this next chapter of her baseball career.”
Last summer, the 40-year-old attended the Blue Jays’ Player Development complex in Dunedin, Fla., spending a week as a guest coach with the organization’s FCL team. And she is someone that has received plenty of interest from the franchise for several years.
“Ashley had been on our radar as a coaching candidate for a while before we invited her to come and help out at the complex. Seeing her work with our players and alongside our staff gave us more than enough confidence in her ability to succeed as a coach,” said Joe Sclafani, Director, Player Development. “We are elated to now have her as part of our staff in Vancouver and are excited to see her continue to grow as a coach as well as the impact she’ll have on our developing players.”
Stephenson, a former two-sport athlete, is planning to take a leave of absence from her high school teaching job in February before reporting to Dunedin for spring training. She will remain there until departing for Vancouver ahead of the Canadian’s season opener on Apr. 7.
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